ZZZZ | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Chicago's ZZZZ is an unusually difficult band to describe because its music is such a crazy hybrid: the quartet wraps polka-worthy beats and psychedelic keyboards around lurching math-rock time changes, fills in the foregrounds with swirling, klezmeresque sax, and bases its licks on dark minor and penta-whatever scales, which makes me wonder if they've been listening to Rom wedding music on top of everything else. The music evokes tragedy, terror, and a perverse sense of fun--ex-Sweep the Leg Johnny saxophonist Steve Sostak in particular has a bug-eyed, menacing stage presence. The lyrics aren't very interesting, but that's not the point: the sharp tag-team girl-boy vocals turn the words into another opportunity for fun-house rhythmic play. Their debut album, Palm Reader (Polyvinyl), has been my wake-up disc of choice every morning since it fell into my hands; if I were filming a biopic about Pee-wee Herman, I'd have these geeks working on the sound track before I even started looking for child actors. Weather and Indian Jewelry open. Mon 3/28, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499. Free.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Martha Williams.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →